Obama in Chicago for fundraising events

March 16, 2012 4:24:00 PM PDT
President Barack Obama was in Chicago for a pair of fundraisers in the Loop.

The president's pre-Illinois primary fundraising visit was carefully timed to steal the media spotlight from the Republican White House candidates. It was opportunity for Obama, amid the uncertainty on the other side, to be presidential.

The visit was purely political, paid for entirely by the President's re-election campaign.

Obama was accompanied first on Air Force One, then on Marine One, by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

"Hello, Chicago," Obama told the crowd. "It is good to be home!"

Guests paid anywhere from $2,500 to $38,000 dollars to attend The Palmer House fundraisers, which included a luncheon at which the unopposed president spoke only four days before the March 20 Illinois primary. He chuckled about the contentious Republican contest.

"You might have noticed that we have some guests in Illinois this week," he said. "Apparently things haven't quite wrapped up on the other side."

The president spoke one day after former house speaker Newt Gingrich campaigned in the northwest suburbs and about four hours after GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney called Obama an economic lightweight.

Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady wrote in an e-mailed statement, "It is abundantly clear that President Obama has given up on governing and is only concerned about saving his own job."

"What the president does is govern this country and that's his first priority, and I believe that he's pouring his heart and soul into that," Durbin said.

Before the luncheon speech the audience saw the Obama campaign's documentary-style film, narrated by actor Tom Hanks. It focused on the accomplishments of the of president's first term, from healthcare reform, the auto industry's recovery to the killing of Osama bin Laden since 2008.

"I will never be a perfect president but I made a commitment then that I would always tell you what I believed," Obama said. "I would always tell you where I stood, and I would wake up every single day fighting as hard as I know how for you. And I've kept that promise to the American people."

Both Obama fundraisers this afternoon happened in the Palmer House Hilton. The luncheon mentioned earlier was followed by a private reception for so-called "major, major donors."

The president reportedly raised $2 million Friday afternoon.